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Court Explains Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Strokes are critical medical events that require immediate care. As such, doctors that fail to provide stroke patients with a prompt diagnosis and treatment may inadvertently cause them to suffer irreparable harm. People hurt by the negligent management of strokes can seek compensation for their losses, but even in cases where there seems to be clear evidence of medical malpractice, doctors are typically reluctant to admit liability; instead, they will often seek dismissal via summary judgment. Recently a New York court issued an opinion explaining the burden of proof imposed on each party with regard to motions for summary judgment in medical malpractice cases, in a matter in which it denied the defendant’s motions. If you were harmed by incompetent medical care, you might be owed damages, and you should meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to assess what evidence you must produce to prove liability.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff presented to the defendant’s hospital complaining of lightheadedness, confusion, difficulty speaking, and right-sided weakness. He reported that he recently fell off of a stool as well. He was admitted to the hospital for evaluation and care and was treated by a radiologist, hospitalist, and neurologist during his admission. He was diagnosed with a stroke the following day, after which his condition worsened greatly.

He was ultimately transferred to another hospital for more extensive neurological care. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant and his treatment providers, arguing their negligence caused him to suffer significant brain damage. The defendants each filed motions for summary judgment.

Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Under New York law, a plaintiff alleging harm due to medical malpractice must establish that the defendant breached the standard of care that applies in the community and that the breach proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer harm. Further, outside of issues within the ordinary understanding and experience of laypeople, expert evidence is required to prove these elements.

A defendant seeking summary judgment in a medical malpractice action can meet their burden of proof by producing testimony and medical records rebutting the plaintiff’s claims. If the defendant offers such proof, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff, who must demonstrate, usually via an expert opinion, a departure from the accepted practice of medicine and that the departure caused the plaintiff’s harm. In the subject case, the court found that the defendants had met their burdens of proof with regard to their motions for summary judgment. In response, however, the plaintiff offered evidence establishing that triable issues of fact existed. Thus, the court denied the defendants’ motions.

Talk to a Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Strokes can cause significant injuries, and the longer a diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the more likely it is that a stroke will cause permanent harm. If you suffered losses due to the negligent management of a stroke, it is advisable to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers understand the complexities of medical malpractice cases, and if we represent you, we advocate zealously on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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